The spirit in the Bristol Rovers camp was typified in Darrell Clarke’s pre-match interview when asked about the goalkeeping crisis and he rubbed his chin with a gloved hand! Nothing seems to phase the team at the moment, they deal with each situation as it arises.
Oldham Manager John Sheridan is looking for the same spirit in his team as they have to deal with a poor start to the season as far as points accumulated are concerned.
Speaking after the heartbreak of being denied a first win, away at Fleetwood on Saturday he noted, “At the start of the season we’ve played teams in and around the top of the table, Fleetwood and Charlton, I don’t think there’s too much between the teams in the division.”
“We’ve shown in the last two games, against Charlton, who I think will be up there, and Fleetwood who are a good footballing side, we’ve proved we can match teams and we just have to believe in ourselves.
“I feel as though if we give a performance like against Charlton and Fleetwood then we’ve got a good chance of getting something. We have to try and take the last two performances into Bristol and see where it takes us.”
“It’s difficult when you're not winning, but the most important thing is to stick together as a group, try to get through it and hopefully we turn a corner and we go to a tough game against Bristol Rovers believing we can get our first win.
"It's hard for everyone when you’re losing people start talking rubbish, saying this that and the other, you just have to get on with your job.”
“I know what this game is about, it doesn’t really bother me too much what people are saying outside, I’m bothered about the team, I’m bothered about the supporters who are having a hard time at the moment.
“I know the supporters are behind me at the moment and I really respect their support they give me and I want to try and give them something back and I’m not giving them anything at the moment because we're not winning, it’s my job to turn that around for them.”
“Again the support was brilliant on Saturday and it has been all season, but we need to start winning games, I’m confident we will do that but we need to get out there, roll our sleeves up and fight for the cause.”
On Saturday, after sustaining early pressure, the Latics took the lead in the 18th minute as Eoin Doyle's inch-perfect cross from the right was nodded home by the unmarked Craig Davies.
Just six minutes later Fleetwood drew level in the 24th minute as Kyle Dempsey's free-kick was nodded back across goal by Baily Cargill into the path of Ash Eastham who nodded home from close range.
Oldham made Fleetwood pay for being profligate in front of goal when Kean Bryan popped up to spectacularly blast the ball home from distance after the home team failed to clear a corner.
But Sheridan’s team were denied their first win of the season as Ash Hunter coolly fired home from the spot in the 90th minute after Devante Cole was bundled over in the box.
Over the years there have been some remarkable games between the Gas and the Latics, 57 in total with 19 Oldham victories, 24 to Rovers and 14 draws. Only 5 of those games have been 0–0 and in one remarkable instance was 4-4.
The first meeting was in the FA Cup on 14 December 1935 as the teams tied 1-1 at Boundary Park, Rovers won the replay 4-1 at Eastville with a Phil Taylor hat-trick.
The first League meeting took place on 16 April 1954 with Rovers winning 1-0 at Eastville with a George Petherbridge goal. Three days later the teams drew 0-0 at Boundary Park.
In the 1967-68 season, the goals really flowed in this fixture. Rovers won the home tie in front of a 6,864 crowd on 17 February 1968, 4-3 with goals by Alfie Biggs (2) and Johnny Williams (2, 1 penalty) for the home team and Tony Towers (2) and Laurie Sheffield (who had been on Rovers books at one stage without ever getting a game, he went on to score 132 goals in a 281 game career).
Oldham had gone ahead in the game but with 11 minutes left, Rovers were 3-1 up. Towers then scored and Sheffield equalised before Biggs headed his second.
At Boundary Park in the final game of the season, there were, even more, goals as Bobby Jones (2), Wayne Jones, Harold Jarman and Stuart Taylor for the away team and an Ian Wood hat-trick for the home team led to a 5-3 away win.
Wayne Jones scored after 11 minutes and quarter of an hour later Bobby Jones doubled the lead. Wood then scored in the 53rd and 58th minutes to level the scores, but Taylor quickly restored Rovers lead. In the 78th minutes, Wood completed his hat-trick and once again brought the scores level. Bobby Jones responded immediately and with just 8 minutes of the season left Jarman put the icing on the cake.
That 4-4 draw was on 27 September 1997, in front of a 5,990 crowd. A rampant Oldham team raced into a 3-0 lead, within the first half hour, with goals by Barlow (8 mins and 23 mins) and McCarthy (25 mins). 15 minutes later and Rovers had pegged it back to 3-3 with Beadle (30 mins and 33 mins) and Hayles (45 mins) scoring. Oldham re-took the lead with a 59th-minute goal by Garner but Rovers were not finished, Cureton slammed home a penalty in the 87th minute.
In 2008-09 Rovers completed a 2-0 double over the Latics, which bettered the previous season’s 1-0 double! Prior to that Rovers’ last victory at Boundary Park was on 26 February 2000 as Rovers raced towards what appeared to be a certain automatic promotion.
Goals by Cureton (4 mins and 6 mins, penalty) and Astafjevs (11 mins) seemed to have sown the game up for Rovers within the first 15 minutes. A further goal by Thomson (48 mins) just after half time gave the Gas an unassailable lead and Oldham’s only response was a goal by Dudley in the 67th minute.
Last season Rovers took maximum points in the fixture with a 2-0 win at Oldham and a 1-0 victory at the Mem.
Team news is that Ousmane Fane is available after serving a ban on Saturday. Abdelhakim Omrani should make his debut if he can overcome a minor knee injury which kept him out at Highbury, while defender Rob Hunt (hamstring) needs to be checked over.
Ryan Flynn, Paul Green (both Achilles) and Courtney Duffus (virus) are all likely to be missing once more.